Total Drek

Or, the thoughts of several frustrated intellectuals on Sociology, Gaming, Science, Politics, Science Fiction, Religion, and whatever the hell else strikes their fancy. There is absolutely no reason why you should read this blog. None. Seriously. Go hit your back button. It's up in the upper left-hand corner of your browser... it says "Back." Don't say we didn't warn you.

Sunday, April 02, 2006


Last Friday:
So I am on the train to my dad’s house after the medical. Like all of my recent medical experiences, it can easily be described as unusual.

There are three embassy approved doctors in Belgium and Luxemburg. One of them is in Antwerp*, and for practical reasons I had chosen to go to this one. I asked the doctor for directions and he said „it’s near the Falconplein ”.

Earlier today then, I walked out of the beautiful Central Station in Antwerp, map in hand. I found the doctor’s practice without any trouble after about 15 minutes’ walk. Het Falconplein. Yes, I should explain. You see, although I only know the main streets in Antwerp, and had never been to this particular square, I knew it. It is (perhaps was) legendary as a landmark in the Eastern European/Russian crimescene. Like Hastings and Main in Vancouver.

The square is an uninteresting affair, neither beautiful nor extraordinarily ugly, remarkable only for the small green shack topped by a gigantic red star, which even in my tolerant home country is a little strange. It is also a somewhat eccentric location for a doctor’s practice specifically vouched for by the US embassy. No matter – I ring the doorbell, and enter. The place is, and smells, very musty, with peeling paint in the toilets and carpets that haven’t been moved since the sixties. I wonder why, of all the neat and respectable practices in this country, the US has seen fit to do business with this one.

Back in the waiting room, people start filing in. An African lady, obviously not very long in Belgium; A chassidic jewish couple**; a bearded, slightly smelly and possibly drunk Flemish man. That last begs, elaborately, to be allowed to hand in a paper – „one minute. I swear – one minute”. He then, without any prompting at all, explains that he has come from, pfff, far. „I never come here, you see. Now I will have to go to the whores.” The jewish girl looks at him with a look of sheer bafflement. Misinterpeting her, the man adds „Whores. You know, prostitutes.”

After some time I am ushered into the doctor’s office. Contrary to my expectations, there is, apparently, not to be anything elaborate; a bloodtest (now), a chest x-ray (next week, at another practice) and a single vaccination (following the x-ray). I assume the bloodtest is an HIV test, since that is what the papers suggest, but in Belgium you can never be sure that it does what it says on the box. We chat about Hungary, paperwork. He tells me that the lady at the embassy is anti-Bush. As I walk out the door he asks, as an afterthought, „you don”t have any serious diseases, do you?”

Walking back I come across an Indian boy in golden sneakers. For just a moment I consider running away with him because
a) he is wearing golden sneakers
b) he looks great in them
but decide against it, because the Fiancé knows all European capitals, understands general relativity and understands about armadilloes***. Even golden sneakers can’t beat that. Even with the occasional misguided beard.

Maybe I should get golden sneakers of my own.

*The other two are in Brussels and in Luxemburg. This is not at all a practical arrangement.
**Antwerp is traditionally home to a large community of chassidic jews, who run the diamond trade
***Forget kittens. Armadilloes are the cutest animals.


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